9 to 5

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I tumbled out of bed, and I stumbled to the kitchen.  I poured myself a cup of cold tap-water.

I wasn’t feeling very Dolly Parton this morning. My cup was not overflowing with ambition. I was in a mood. You could say, in fact, that I was grumpy. That I’d climbed out of the bed on the wrong side. However you describe it  I wasn’t feeling much goodwill towards my fellow man.

I’d had a nightmare in the middle of the night and sleep had been restless since. Never mind, I thought to myself. It’s Friday. You’re only working until 3.30pm. Put one foot in front of the other. Let’s get this circus on the road.

If only it were that simple.

I don’t drive a motor vehicle. However I do take a bus to work. So I understand perfectly well what a traffic jam entails. It’s a twenty minutes walk to reach my bus stop.

I wonder if drivers are aware of the concept of a footpath jam, among pedestrians. Where progress on the path (as I am not American I refuse to call it a sidewalk) is slow or delayed due to the width of the path being insufficient to cater to the number of walkers.

What causes these jams though? Well sometimes it is simply the volume of passers-by.

Other times it is caused by morons. Individuals who dawdle along without a care in the world – gently strolling, taking the world in, oblivious to the pace of the walking masses. Or people who stop in the middle of the path to check their mobile phone.

Today it was the latter. The path was narrow and 8am is the time, when the office bees are busy scurrying to their cubicles, in their thousands. Within seconds the backlog of people trying to pass was about thirty.

I started internally tutting. Not the woman in front of me. She tapped the phone offender on the shoulder and said in a sharp tone ‘You are blocking the walkway, please move.’ I could have cheered her. The guilty party looked like she wanted to spit at the other woman. But she scarpered.

Onward towards the bus-stop, I progressed.

If only it were that simple. Three tourists (the woolly hats and backpacks were what revealed their identity) were standing – like bollards – in he middle of the footpath, consulting their map. Perhaps being on holiday dulls the senses. They seemed utterly oblivious to the throngs of people milling around them. Perhaps there is no morning rush hour in Madrid or Paris or Milan or Munich (or from where-ever they hailed). Perhaps stopping to consult a map in the middle of the street is common practice there?

People swerved to avoid them. Not the woman who had tapped the previous idiot on the shoulder. She was clearly in a worse mood than I today. She simply barged through them, cheerily shouting ‘Excuse me’. The look of hurt and confusion on the bovine faces of the tourists was heart-breaking. I laughed to myself. They scuttled off the main route to avoid the passing hordes. A sad tale perhaps. but hopefully also a lesson learned.

I was five minutes early for my bus. As there was a bite in the air this morning I decided that I needed to check out the maternity hospital across the road.  You may ask why. Well hospitals have cafes. And I have not yet sourced a location for a morning coffee if the mood takes me, while waiting for the bus to the wastelands. The hospital has quite a nice café, which in addition to coffee and tea, also serves breakfast rolls. This place must be avoided, at all costs. If only for the sake of my cholesterol levels.

The bus journey was pleasant enough – at first. As it is midterm break at school the bus is less crowded this week. Meaning that if I looked miserable enough, I might discourage people from sitting next to me for the duration of the entire journey. I allowed my mouth to loll open slightly. Nothing too obvious. But a subtle sign to other passengers that an alternative seat was preferable.

It was successful for about four stops, until the elderly gentleman boarded. He marched down to my seat and plonked down beside me. He was about eighty I would guess.

I suppose it was too much to ask for a little solitude today.

He squinted at me over his thick spectacles.

‘Are you foreign?’ he barked at me.

‘I’m from Limerick’ I replied nervously. He sounded like a died-in-the-wool Dub. Perhaps he’d regard me as foreign?

No such luck, He nodded, and proceeded to tell me about his upcoming hospital appointment.

I was subdued by the time I got to work.

Not for long. My enemy at work – Mouthbreather – was holding forth, among my other colleagues. She had a new hairstyle – which resembled a frosted meringue. It highlighted the beady little eyes in her potato complexioned face.

She has handed her notice in at work.

My heart soared.

There is a Dolly after all.

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